Understanding Recovery

Mental health problems impacts on the person who experiences them and those close to them. Recovery is a word you will hear frequently in mental health and social care. For many people, the concept of recovery is about staying in control of their life despite experiencing a mental health problem.

Although there are many perceptions and definitions of recovery, William Anthony, Director of the Boston Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation seems to have developed the cornerstone definition of mental health recovery. Anthony (1993) identifies recovery as “a deeply personal, unique process of changing one’s attitudes, values, feelings, goals, skills and/or roles. It is a way of living a satisfying, hopeful, and contributing life even with limitations caused by the illness. Recovery involves the development of new meaning and purpose in one’s life as one grows beyond the catastrophic effects of mental illness.”

Professionals in the mental health sector often refer to the ‘recovery model’ to describe this way of thinking. How is this put in action by services? Mental health services working to a recovery model focus care on supporting recovery and building the resilience of people with mental health problems, not just on treating or managing their symptoms.